This year marks 71 years since the United Nations was established. Following the one-year ’70-60 Campaign’ under the tagline ‘Our UN. අපේ UN. எங்கள் UN.’ (‘Our UN. Apey UN. Engal UN.’), the 2017 UN Day was held at the UN Compound to celebrate all international and national staff of the UN Agencies in Sri Lanka under the ‘One UN’ theme.
Noting this partnership, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Mangala Samaraweera stated, “We in Government value the work of the United Nations in Sri Lanka… The support that all of you provide us at this important time in our country’s history, is invaluable. I thank all of you in the UN Country Team in Sri Lanka for the dedication and commitment with which all of you work to support us in every conceivable field of importance to us in our quest of pursuing the goals of strengthening our democracy, forging reconciliation, ensuring equitable and inclusive economic development, and sustaining peace”.
As 2016 marks the first year of implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this year’s UN Day celebrations in Sri Lanka was also marked through the unveiling of the localized SDG branding by the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs, inside the UN Compound.
Speaking to the UN staff at this event, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Una McCauley stated, “Times are changing in Sri Lanka, and so is the UN. We are committed to doing things differently.
We are investing in innovation, with a vision to become a forward-looking UN. During the Secretary-General’s recent visit, he stated that our staff ‘is the backbone of the great work we do in Sri Lanka’ and I could not agree more”.
The event was attended by a few partners from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and staff of the United Nations in Sri Lanka.
Remarks by Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs
24 October 2016
Ms. Una McCauley,
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative in Sri Lanka,
Staff of the UN Country Team in Sri Lanka,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
• It is a pleasure for me to join all of you here today, in your office to mark the 71st anniversary of the United Nations. As the UN turns 71 today, Sri Lanka’s formal relationship with the UN turns 61 this year.
• On the 26th of June 1945, following two devastating world wars, members of the international community came together in San Francisco, to sign the Charter of the United Nations. The promise made in the Charter that came into effect on the 24th of October 1945 to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, and uphold instead, respect for dialogue, diplomacy, international cooperation and an international rules based system is what we celebrate and recommit to, today.
• The United Nations system has helped us achieve a lot over the last 71 years. It has been in the forefront in drawing attention to the greatest problems faced by mankind, and helped lift large populations across the world out of poverty, promote democracy, take steps to make the world safer for children, draw communities across the world, closer, build strong partnerships and forge greater ties.
• Yet, the challenges before us in the world are daunting. Effects of climate change, conflict, refugees, rise of violent extremism and intolerance, threats to human rights, terrorism – all these and more pose considerable challenges.
• It is my firm belief that no matter how hard it may seem or how challenging it may be, it is by upholding the values upon which the United Nations was founded – pluralism, human rights, respect for diversity, and the principle of working together – that we can overcome the problems that the world is faced with. The United Nations must take the lead more and more to create awareness among the peoples that our planet is too small and our destinies too intertwined for us as human beings to not realise that while we respect diversity, we are ultimately one human family.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
• We in Government value the work of the United Nations in Sri Lanka. We are pleased that the Secretary-General His Excellency Ban Ki-moon honoured the people of Sri Lanka by visiting us this year.
• The support that all of you provide us at this important time in our country’s history, is invaluable. I thank all of you in the UN Country Team in Sri Lanka for the dedication and commitment with which all of you work to support us in every conceivable field of importance to us in our quest of pursuing the goals of strengthening our democracy, forging reconciliation, ensuring equitable and inclusive economic development, and sustaining peace.
• While thanking all of you, I also want to also extend appreciation to the entire UN family across the world including the UN Peacekeepers who so selflessly devote their lives to promoting international peace and security, development, combating disease, eradicating poverty and building a stronger United Nations with the aim of creating a better tomorrow for us all.